We met with Sandra Muaka from Sagafrikaat Montreal Inc. “Grand Messe” last month (read our full article on that great event). Here is the story of her new venture, started in May 2017 with her sister Aicha, and her own fascinating story, from Africa to cold Canada.
From Healthcare to Food Transformation
Sandra was training to become a doctor in Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of Congo) when she got the opportunity to continue her studies in Canada. She flew halfway through the world and decided to study Food Science and Technology as it had a health-oriented component. With a Bachelor from Laval University, she could start building her experience in Food Quality Assurance. For 10 years, Sandra worked in Quebec and Alberta in various food companies such as Old Dutch Foods, Kraft Foods, Olymel Red Deer, and O Sole Mio…
She definitely drove her entrepreneurial inspiration from her last job experience, more focused on ready-to-eat meals. As an immigrant, she knew the challenges that diaspora face when living abroad. She decided to create Sagafrika to offer a convenient, tasty, and accessible alternative to cooking African dishes. Offering frozen food products to African populations in Quebec was a new innovative way of answering a real need.
Quality Assurance is critical in the food industry. I wanted to use my expertise in that area to offer an innovative product.
From food scientist to entrepreneur
To fine-tune her concept, Sandra organised focus groups and tastings. Today, products are specifically targeted towards immigrants living in Montreal – students and families.
Sagafrika offers six recipes all inspired by her home country – DR Congo. Saka saka is the most famous one: a sauce made out of cassava leaves. Among other choices: a sauce with fish and sorrel, another with eru leaves and smoked fish or a more traditional spinach sauce.
Sandra currently cooks her products herself by renting a spot in an industrial kitchen, in Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts, Cuisine des pays d’en haut.
Frozen dishes bring a real security when launching a food startup: they can be sold within a year.
Sagafrika is focused on expanding its product line to the rest of African dishes and towards offering spiced side dishes like cassava or sweet potato fries.
For now you can order these delicious dishes here.